Dec 27, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — While the war-torn South Sudan is racing to restore peace and reconcile the masses, Salva Kiir administration is racing to reaffirm its tenure, which would expire in seven months according to South Sudan’s transitional constitution.
In response, the government has approved $517 million US dollar to convene general elections before July, 2015.
To the proponents, an election has to be convened to avoid violating the constitution, however, to the opponents an election within these time-frames would be premature and as well violate parts of the Transitional constitution.
According to Michael Makuei Lueth, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, South Sudan has “… approved an amount of 1.5 billion South Sudanese Pounds for running the elections.”
As Makuei explains, the administration is alarmed that the tenure of Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardiit is coming to an end in seven months as stipulated in the Transitional Constitution.
The Transitional Constitution states “the tenure of the office of the President of the Republic of South Sudan shall be four years, commencing from July 9, 2011.”
President Kiir, who was elected in Sudanese election in 2010 to head the Southern part of the country, was recommended after independent of South Sudan in 2011 to lead the country to its first election in 2015.
To conduct free and fair elections, the Transitional constitution stipulates that an electoral commission must be set out and a census must be conducted to avoid irregularities such as rigging of votes during the elections. In addition, political parties have to be registered and peace have to prevail to allow polling in all the ten states.
The electoral commission, which is yet to organize by-elections in four of the ten states to replace governors removed by president Kiir in 2013, has been relatively inactive since the last election.
According to Dr. Lam Akol, the Chairman of SPLM-DC, who contested for presidency against Salva Kiir in 2010, South Sudan elections cannot be conducted without registering political parties in the country.
“According to the election law, political parties must be registered in accordance with the elections act of 2012. None has registered, including the ruling party itself,” Akol told South Sudan in Focus.
The opposition party leader, Dr. Lam Akol, warns that the election would violate the constitution if conducted without organizing the Political Affairs Council to regulate the political parties.
“So are you going to carry out elections in violation of the constitution and in violation of the law? The government did not swear in the body that regulates the different political parties. It is called the Political Affairs Council. It did not swear them in for two years,” Akol said.
In May, President Salva Kiir agreed that preparing the country for a general election would require two to three years, and therefore, the transitional government must be formed to carry out such duties.
Within the same month, the president however demanded that he must be the leader of such transitional government, and “must always remain the leader of that country”.
Although the fund has been approved, Hon. Makuei Lueth agrees with Dr. Lam Akol and other opposing voices that the elections must wait for peace to be realized in the country.
Instead Dr. Lam argues that such money must be diverted to the poor South Sudanese who are surviving through the mercy of humanitarian partners, a call that government officials would protest.
“In the first place, elections should be held when there is peace. You cannot have elections when people are still fighting. And people are displaced — about two million people have been displaced,” Lam said
“I think the government should have paid that money for those people because that is the priority — to save lives, not to talk about diversionary issues,” he concludes.
Humanitarian Agencies seeking $600 millions by February
While South Sudan is spending billions of petro-dollar on the civil war and allocating millions others for elections, humanitarian agencies are struggling to raise $1.8 billion to save lives of 4.1 millions South Sudanese, who are starving of hunger or dying from curable diseases.
According to South Sudan Crisis Situation Report, produced by OCHA South Sudan in collaboration with humanitarian partners, $600 millions of the $1.8 billions needed for 2015 is required by February 2015.
Out of the $600 millions, the agencies will pre-position supplies and fix roads and airstrips to reach isolated populations across the country.
The Humanitarian Response Plan for 2015 prioritizes saving lives and alleviating suffering; protecting the rights of the most vulnerable; and improving self-reliance and coping capacities.
The new announcement by Salva Kiir’s factions to conduct general elections in less than 7 months has been received with mixed feelings by the political parties, and South Sudanese intellectuals.
While the opponents argue that the organs of governments such as judiciary, parliament or the army, which are supposedly independent, no longer serve their purposes but the interest of the president, the proponents maintain that the government is protecting the constitution and the interest of South Sudanese people.
According to Abu Deng, a fellow in public policy & international affairs at Woodrow Wilson, South Sudan government must be making a wrong decision to cling to power by any means.
“So the UN is pleading (and some nations states are not picking up the phone) for money globally to help a South Sudan desperately while the Juba government is spends what – $5-20 million a month on war, thousands dead from hunger and disease, and more dying daily…” Deng said.
“Yet our officials want to first magically make appears (via Chinese oil loans no doubt) and then use half a billion dollars ($517 million) on a sure-to-be badly organized and questionable national elections in in less than 6 months when any election should normally take ~4-6 years just to prepare before time.” he continues.
“Washington, London and Brussels will view this as an insane final act, of a desperate regime clinging to power by any means. Our diplomatic representatives in the global power centres have their defining example to show their host nation this current government has no sense of national responsibility nor sense of reason — SPLM-Juba is all about themselves, the elite few of the Kiir inner circle this action proves, not the suffering masses in camps scattered across the nation and region.” Deng concludes.
According to Kuch, who response through South Sudan in focus from the town of Bor, “South Sudanese people need peace first, elections second and that is why the South Sudanese people don’t want another precedence to be set in South Sudan like in many of our African countries like, where the corporate America and corporate Europe can leaders like they are changing undies. That is not going to happen as far as South Sudanese people are concerned, never.”